The Pelican Blog

Pelicans center Jason Smith drives against New York defender Andrea Bargnani postgame: Pelicans 103, Knicks 99

By: Jim Eichenhofer,, @Jim_Eichenhofer

NEW YORK – New Orleans already has far too much experience playing without Anthony Davis, who missed 18 games due to injury as a rookie. It looks like the Pelicans again will have to compensate for the absence of their star second-year forward, who sustained a non-displaced fracture in his left hand in Sunday’s second quarter. His timetable to return is to be determined.

Fortunately for the Pelicans, who were just 4-14 without Davis last season, they’re undeniably a more talented team in 2013-14. Playing a spirited game in Davis’ stead, Ryan Anderson had one of the best games of his NBA career at Madison Square Garden, piling up 31 points (including 7-for-11 three-point shooting). Fellow New Orleans reserve Tyreke Evans turned in what was perhaps his most valuable performance of this season as well, producing 24 points, as the Pelicans (8-8) held on to defeat the Knicks (3-13). It was New Orleans’ second straight win against an Eastern Conference opponent on the club’s current three-game road trip that concludes Monday in Chicago.

In addition to Anderson and Evans’ fine play, Al-Farouq Aminu delivered timely fourth-quarter defense after a DNP in Friday’s win at Philadelphia. Aminu also did not play Sunday until late in the third quarter, but still managed to come up with five key points and five rebounds in the fourth. Trailing 102-99, New York had two chances to tie the game on three-point attempts, but Tim Hardaway Jr. and Carmelo Anthony misfired. The Knicks missed three more consecutive treys in the final 11 seconds, enabling New Orleans to improve to 5-2 since Anderson made his season debut Nov. 16.

“A bunch of guys stepped up,” Pelicans fourth-year head coach Monty Williams said. “Ryan and Tyreke off the bench, and Al-Farouq’s ability to come in in the second half after sitting the last game was huge for us. We didn’t get our best efforts tonight from our starting guards, but they stayed with us. Obviously we played against a desperate team, but we’re desperate too.”

Normally somewhat stoic on the court regardless of how well he’s performing, Anderson played a fiery 36 minutes at MSG, nearly reaching his career highs in points (34, set last season in Phoenix) and three-pointers (8 in the same game). After the Pelicans started sluggishly, trailing 20-16 through the first quarter, Anderson spearheaded a 60-54 advantage in the middle quarters. The team’s leading scorer this season despite coming off the bench in each of his seven appearances, Anderson bottomed out six treys during that portion of the game, including four in the third period. He scored 24 points in the middle periods, sparking New Orleans to a 76-74 lead. He tacked on five more points in the fourth period, while Evans dropped in 10, including six free throws.

“We knew starting the second half (that Davis was sidelined for the game),” Anderson said. “We knew having AD out was something that we didn’t want to get us down. We really wanted to just go out and play hard, and have a better second half than we had in the first. We did a great job of that. We came out with a lot of energy and played a solid game.”